Coldstone Creamery closing its downtown Pleasanton store | March 29, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 29, 2013

Coldstone Creamery closing its downtown Pleasanton store

Franchise owner says landlord objected to 'too many kids' in Tully's Plaza

by Glenn Wohltmann

The franchise owners of Coldstone Creamery in downtown Pleasanton are closing their store and moving out of Tully's Plaza after Craig Semmelmeyer, the owner of Main Street Properties, refused to renew their lease.

The issue, according to Coldstone franchisee Mike Salas, was kids at the plaza, although the landlord said otherwise.

At Coldstone, Mike Salas and his wife Mindy were due to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their store, but Salas got the word in a voice message that they had 45 days to move out, a call that came just as he was recovering from surgery in January.

Salas said he'd been in negotiations with Semmelmeyer for nearly a year for a lease renewal.

"We had a big meeting with Coldstone (executives)," Salas said. "He sat there and told Coldstone that I was bringing kids into the plaza that shouldn't be there. An ice cream store -- what better place for kids to hang out?"

Semmelmeyer said kids were not the deciding issue in not renewing the Salases' lease.

"They were told that they needed to increase their sales. They didn't do that and their sales continued to decline," Semmelmeyer said. "Their sales were less than half of what they used to be. People are voting with their feet."

He said his concern is how downtown Pleasanton competes with Livermore and Dublin.

"If we don't have the best tenants, things will wither," Semmelmeyer said, adding that the Salases "have an obligation to do more than pay rent, they have an obligation to be popular within the community."

He also said Tully's Plaza is one of the highest-earning areas in downtown, comparable with the earnings per square foot at Stoneridge Shopping Center, and said one under-performing tenant can drag the others down.

Salas said his problem with Semmelmeyer can be traced back to a couple of years ago, when middle-schoolers were showing up, and that police were there Friday nights. That's been over for some time, Salas said, and he made a personal commitment to Semmelmeyer to clean the area at the end of each business day.

"They had an ongoing issue with really not having an adult presence in the store. I will acknowledge they did a really good job of improving. They made a really good effort of having more of an adult presence," Semmelmeyer said. "They did a nice job of putting effort into that situation and resolving that challenge."

Police were unable to confirm any particular incidents at Tully's Plaza around that time, although Laura Olson, executive director of the Pleasanton Downtown Association, said the plaza did have occasional problems, such as during First Wednesday Street Parties.

Olson also agreed there's a perception that kids are unwelcome downtown, something the PDA is addressing in its five-year hospitality plan, now in its second year.

"We want downtown to be accessible to all age groups and have all age groups embrace downtown. We want there to be activities, shopping opportunities and gathering places for all ages," she said.

Semmelmeyer said he's not uncomfortable with kids but doesn't want "disruptive people" at the plaza, "whether it's kids, adults or whatever."

"We think the plaza is for families. Pleasanton is a family community," he said. "Whatever it is that makes people uncomfortable, we're probably going to want to control that environment."

During lease negotiations, Salas said, "He made me believe that he was doing this in good faith, that we were going to keep the store."

Salas said he had an opportunity to move to a new location on Angela Street last April, but waited because he believed Semmelmeyer.

"He didn't want to move," Semmelmeyer said. "At that meeting in April, a lease was not being offered to him. He said he didn't want to move. That's just a story."

Semmelmeyer also said the Salases had made up their tale about being forced to move out at the last minute.

"It's very painful for someone that is closing their store. It's really hurtful and painful for them," Semmelmeyer said. "They don't deserve to be thrown under the bus, (but) they will tell you a story that's untrue to save face."

Semmelmeyer said the "real story" is the company that's moving in.

His new tenant is another ice cream store, Tara's Organic Ice Cream, based out of Berkeley. Tara's sells high-end ice cream, with flavors that include butternut squash, lavender and caramelized pear, along with the more traditional chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. A medium, two-scoop cone sells for about $6.

"If you look at Tara's, the reviews they get -- we're hoping to have people coming from Livermore," Semmelmeyer said.

Salas said he thought Semmelmeyer's plan was to keep kids away by pricing them out of the market.

Olson said that may not be the case.

"One thing I've noticed is youths today are sophisticated," she said. "They're buying their $5 lattes just as we are. We'll just have to wait and see if they like it."

On Monday, Salas took turns stripping the fixtures and tiles from the walls, sitting down to rest the knee he had replaced, getting condolences from passersby. Salas said he also suffered a stroke in January after getting the news but doesn't know if the two are connected.

The fixtures are being sold and Salas said without funding, he's out of the ice cream business forever.

"This was my first business to open, my wife and I. This was my business," he said. "He's destroyed me."

Semmelmeyer said Salas made a point of moving all the equipment out through the front door as a final jab.

"The reason to do it is to try to get one last nasty slap at their landlord," he said.

Salas said the loss of his business is also a loss to the community.

"We do a lot of fundraising. We make the schools a lot of money," he said, adding he'd just begun working with another organization putting on cancer walks.

"Now that's gone," Salas said.

Pamela Ott, Pleasanton's director of economic development, said she was aware that Coldstone was leaving but described the issue as a landlord-tenant dispute.

"Kids are consumers. In our downtown, we want a variety of shops, restaurants and services that met the needs of all Pleasanton residents," she said. "This is a decision from the property owner about what tenant he wants in that space. The city's just happy to see that ice cream is still going to be part of the offerings at the Tully's Plaza."

Ott said no business license has been issued to Tara's, but added that's not unusual and that many business wait until they're about to open before getting licensed.

A few blocks away, the popular 1st Chef Hunan Wong Chinese restaurant near Vic's All-Star Restaurant, always filled to capacity at lunchtime, announced it will close Sunday after serving Chinese cuisine to Easter Day diners. It couldn't afford the higher rent in a new lease offered by Castlewood Properties, its landlord.


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Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Castlewood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:01 am

Weak move by Semmelmeyer. We don't need or want $6 ice cream. I will skip it and Tully's and others in same development.

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Posted by Tully's Tallywhackers
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:29 am

interesting that they chose to try and force out kids instead of the 50+ year old wannabe bikers and their cigarettes.

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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 8:42 am

Agree that we should get rid of the bikers. We should concentrate on them moving them out. I would much rather see kids and families.

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Posted by Dan
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 29, 2013 at 9:00 am

Message to Craig Semmelmeyer:

You could have just said that you wanted more in rent and be done with the drama. You come off as a bit smarmy. And might people be voting with their feet because of the bikers that tend to hang out at Tullys? I personally don't care for Coldstone Ice Cream; too rich for me. But gourmet ice cream? Nope...not going to do it.

Message to Mike Salas:

Buck up, move down the street and compete with Tara's. You come off as whining. If you're convinced that you provide a great product, then what's stopping you? And lets be serious, the few times I'd been to your establishment the service was terrible.


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Posted by Concerned parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

""One thing I've noticed is youths today are sophisticated," she said. "They're buying their $5 lattes just as we are. We'll just have to wait and see if they like it.""

Yes, they are more sophisticated, but they are also smart and understand that ice cream, no matter how you present it, is not something healthy or something you pay premium prices for. It would be one thing to replace Coldstone with a Jamba Juice store, that would keep business even at not so cheap prices. But overpriced ice cream? No, no matter how much you say it is gluten free (the cones) or lower in fat (it is not,btw, when you see the fat to calories ratio rather than looking just at the grams of fat), ice cream is ice cream... still a kids treat and still something health conscious teens and adults stay way from. Teens and adults who are not as health conscious do not go for weird overpriced flavors, organic or not.

If Semmelmeyer thinks that getting rid of Coldstone will solve the kids problem, he needs to wait and see. Kids will hang out where they want regardless, it is after all, PUBLIC sidewalks and streets.

After reading the story, I believe the Salas side more than Semmelmeyer's. Coldstone was a popular place, and good for the community with their fundraisers, so Semmelmeyer loses credibility when he says ""We think the plaza is for families. Pleasanton is a family community," and yet he complains about the kids there. I'd rather have kids than bikers in the downtown area. And if Semmelmeyer thinks people will come from Livermore for Tara's...he is truly out of touch!

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Did the lease include an economic tie in that Semmelmeyer is saying Cold Stone's business was declining?

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Posted by yomama
a resident of Amador Estates
on Mar 29, 2013 at 12:22 pm

While I'm not a fan of screaming kids, there is nothing more annoying than those loud motorcycles and the horrible cigarette smoke from the bikers that go to Tully's. That's the reason why I avoid that area.

Regarding the issue between landlord and Coldstone - the landlord is just trying to do good business. If a different tenant would give them more overall profit then it makes business sense to do that. If you owned a building would you let a lower paying tenant stay out of the goodness of your heart or would you rent to someone willing to pay more in rent.

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Posted by Dear Landlord
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2013 at 4:37 am

Please enforce the Pleasanton Ordinance of no smoking within 20 feet of the building. I hate going by there and having my 3 year old son inhale the cigarette smoke from the wannabe bikers.

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Posted by downtown shopper
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 30, 2013 at 11:41 am

for CP -- " it is after all, PUBLIC sidewalks and streets."
Wrong. The sidewalks and streets are public, the plaza is not. The landlord has a right to keep loud and obnoxious people, whether it is kids or bikers, off of his property. If that is one of the requirements for the tenants then the landlord can insists that they police the area. Semmelmeyer is one of the few landlords downtown who collect a percentage of the gross sales as well as inordinately high rents. It's his business but that does not make him a particularly nice landlord. There are many other reasons that he is not necessarily the most upstanding landlord around but the bottom line is that if he wants the out of control kids gone, it's his right to do that.
I agree that the 12 steppers and their cigarettes are every bit as annoying. A plaza filled with quiet and courteous people, who actually BOUGHT SOMETHING at these businesses would be a welcome change. The table hogs who bring their Harleys, their strollers, their dogs and their kids and then take up the seats for hours at a time need to get a life.
I stopped purchasing anything at Tullys when the screaming kids were outnumbered only by the dogs and the smokers. Entitlement in Pleasanton is alive and well.

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Posted by Concerned parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 30, 2013 at 3:14 pm

"Wrong. The sidewalks and streets are public, the plaza is not."

Yes, and people have the right to hang out on the sidewalks/street, right outside the new Tara's ice cream shop, whether Semmelmeyer likes it or not. That would be great for the guy to call the police and alienate even more people in this town. If I were Tara's, I'd think twice before signing a contract with this guy.

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Posted by Barry
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I'm thrilled to see a huge national chain gone and replaced with a local business. Hopefully we can get rid of Tully's next.

I do have one complaint. Why can I use my EBT to buy Tara's at Monterey Market but not at an actual Tara's location? Not fair. I will go to Tara's more often if I can use my EBT there which will help the economy.

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Posted by Train wreck
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Semmelmeyer is out of touch with the community. Banning local kids in favor of out of town motorcycle gangs is not only is Un-American, but stupid.

Down at the Farmer's Market this morning, residents have already started boycotting Semmelmeyer's businesses.

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Posted by NMN
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 30, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Tara's was in on running cold stone out and they went into cold stone under cover knowing full well the owners had no idea they were being forced out.

My children are among the '"sophisticated teens" Tara's speaks of. These kids are sophisticated snd quite savvy and won't be giving their money to the SOB's that participated in a scheme to force a favorite business out costing their friends jobs and will certainly let Tara's know they vote with their wallets. We discussed this at great lengths at softball and we are all boycotting Tara's as are all of our combined 42 children. The only silver lining is that it's a teaching moment for we parents in teaching our teens the power of their own wallet votes.

I held a local home open today and made sure this was a topic all day long. Without exception, every family from in town knew of it and not one single person said they intend to award Tara's with business. Those from outside our town we're directed to PW with a message that we are a family community. Being able to say this with such conviction makes me proud to call here home. Now we just need to run Craig out by not patronizing the shops in his buildings so he will lose all rental income. And yes, let's all be sure to fill the sidewalks in front with lots of noisy kids with cones from drive thru dairy

I hope Tara's signed a ten year lease and hemorrhage each month when we loyal locals walk right on by. Not being shy, I will pokingy head in frequently to remind them that we dont take kindly to the games they played with the lives of upstanding members of our community who gave back generously.

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Posted by john
a resident of Dublin
on Mar 31, 2013 at 8:53 pm

What about the people on the corner of the property who screams at everyone going by to come to God? This creates a very unwelcoming atmosphere. I used to dine downtown Pleasanton regularly but not anymore. Why can't I dine with my family in peace?

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Posted by Chris
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 1, 2013 at 10:55 am

What about the bible thumpers screaming on the corner and taking over the plaza. That keeps me out of downtown almost completely!!!! The kids and the Harley riders pale in comparison to those idiots!!!

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Posted by Alan Wilson
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2013 at 10:55 am

I agree that the bikers are a bigger nuisance then kids. Our Landlords need to get a heads in the right place. Please get rid of the bikers and the noise they make.Really bad. Plus our police should enforce the different laws to stop the bikers from creating the noise.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 1, 2013 at 10:59 am

The rumors are flying, but one that held a grain of truth this morning is Mr. Semmelmeyer is targeting High Tech Burrito next. He feels the burrito establishment is also a draw for the hordes of unwashed pre-teens decending on the plaza in the afternoon. Downtown business owners all seem aware of Semmelmeyer's plan to move out all businesses in his buildings who do not meet his agenda. From Pans on Fire to Coldstone to Bibiane, the list is long and there will sure be more to come.

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Posted by Claudette
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm

When a lease comes up for renewal, it needs to be negotiated and the Merchant will have to pay market value or more to keep the space. This is a normal business practice and should have been something Cold Stone was expecting, considering they were working on it for a year. They should also have had another option space ready if they really wanted to continue with their ice cream business. Anywhere they went they would have to pay Current Market Value for their space, so their business must not have been good enough to keep it open at the current rates. That happens to the best of us.

The price of ice cream will be the same with the new tenants or close. Ice cream is ice cream and will be purchased by ice cream lovers period. Boycotting a business doesn't hurt the building owner, just the business that is locked into a lease. If you are around an ice cream parlor, and you want some ice cream, you'll buy it. We are creatures of convenience.

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Posted by bj Tiffany Lane
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I am very concerned that you all speak of discriminating and banning certain people from patronizing business in down town Pleasanton. Granted there are those that could and should be more courteous to others but we shouldn't ban them from Tullys Plaza. What we need in Pleasanton is a strong and dedicated Downtown Association. There needs to be more dialogue between all business owners, Landlords, and the PDA. Back in the 70's and 80's we had nothing but bars and fights in down town. Today we have a very clean (except dog waste) and vibrant downtown with some very nice eating establishments. Do you want to go back to the 70's? I like what I see today in Livermore but their changes came after a very long and painful period. Pleasanton is rapidly declining and we continue to see Businesses leave. What is the Pleasanton Downtown Association doing to stem the tide and reverse the current course of events and return Pleasanton to a warm and robust destination? Who will stand up for the business owners?

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Posted by Concerned parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm

"Who will stand up for the business owners? "

Certainly not Pamela Ott, imo, if you read her comments. I do not know why we pay her so much money. If downtownwill decline, maybe we can get rid of her position and save some public tax money?

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Posted by hugggy bear
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 1, 2013 at 3:15 pm

The PDA is busy planning how many times they can close mainstreet this year. I believe 17 was the number in 2012. I know they can beat that number this year. Get rid of the PDA and Pamela Ott if you want to see some real change that needs to be made.

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Posted by BJ Tiffany Lane
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm

I propose we all join a weekly PDA meeting and ask what the PDA intends on doing about our concerns. Written words are strong but a show of force is stronger.

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Posted by David
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Apr 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Is Tully's any more or less profitable selling a $2 cup of coffee to someone who will just sit for the next hour or so and take up valuable seating space. The real nuisance is not the children of this community. It's the smoking coffee drinkers and loud bikers that give Pleasanton a negative image.

I've noticed a distinct "reversal of fortune" between Pleasanton's and Livermore's downtown business mix, look and feel (not to mention the "draw") factor. Pleasanton is losing market share rapidly, and it's landlords like this who are killing Pleasanton's downtown appeal. I think the city and PDA need to wake up and do something while there's still time!

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Posted by Paul W.
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm

If the city and PDA want to keep up with the competition (e.g. Dublin and Livermore) which is certainly in order given the current circumstances of Main St., maybe local officials should drive the 4-5 miles to the east for a "fam" tour of our neighbors and find out what they are doing differently. I've heard from a good number of Pleasanton residents who don't bother spending time here because there's so much more available just a short drive away (movies, restaurants, night life) and I, unfortunately, have to agree.

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Posted by Dunga
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 2, 2013 at 8:53 am

What other properties does this landlord own? Thanks .

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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 2, 2013 at 9:22 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here's the web site: Web Link

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Posted by lessismore
a resident of Mohr Park
on Apr 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I agree with many of your post!
Many of us moved to Pleasanton because it was a great place to raise a family and live.
One of the things that make Pleasanton is our down town.

I fell this is changing and not for the good of Pleasanton.

We all need to call or email.

Pamela Ott Director of Economic Development
Tel: 925-931-504

We need to tell her what we want down town to remain.
Not a hang-out for cigarette smoking wannabe bikers

2 people like this
Posted by Dorene
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

My Family and I will miss Cold Stone. We still have paid coupons to spend there. I have always believed in supporting our Downtown, but building owners and the PDA keep making it harder. Guess we will have to go to Dublin and Livermore for ice cream and other good places to patronize. Livermore now has our Downtown beat. It use to be the other way around. How unfortunate for the Community of Pleasanton.

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Posted by David
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Apr 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Dorene, I could not agree more with you and many other concerned posters here. Livermore and Dublin are "stealing" our tax dollars and it's time to take back OUR downtown (which attracted many of us to Pleasanton in the first place)!

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Posted by Dave
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 3, 2013 at 9:07 am

Without reading all of the postings, only viewing the last few postings I have to say I agree that I feel the Pleasanton downtown has lost much of its charm and ability to attract people. The once vibrant downtown is one of the many reasons that I settled in Pleasanton. Now, the lack of diversity in the downtown has had a major impact on where we spend our money. Take the time to observe the downtown of Livermore and see the wide diversity of stores, the number of people that actually are shopping (judged by the bags they may be carrying)and the actual number of people in downtown. I question what the new mayor and the downtown association are actively pursuing to bring back our downtown. Empty storefronts and empty lots in our downtown do not paint a good future for Pleasanton. It would be great if empty spaces like Domus could be filled by something like Michaels, or a hardware store, etc. We have always enjoyed the downtown, however we find more and more that we are going to Livermore and Dublin for our shopping. I don't really need to be attacked for my comments, would just like to see the mayor, downtown association and landlords work together to assure that we all have a vibrant downtown once again.

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Posted by dave
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

One time I was walking in the area, a guy threw his Bible at me and said I was going to hell. There is no reason for me to come here anymore.